Wednesday was my mother’s birthday, and it was a rather pleasant coincidence that Zenith, a Russian football team from St Petersburg, should be playing in the UEFA Cup Final on the day. In the morning I left home earlier than usual with the intent to visit a certain shop. I ended up walking the streets and taking photographs of the city getting ready for the descent of football bans, nearly forgetting about the shop (I did visit it eventually).
I know that the general feel was that of surprise and intimidation, and I must admit, having received more compliments in one day than in all 4.5 years in Britain, I felt that I should stay at home. But I did get to spend about 15 minutes in the human traffic jam in Piccadilly Gardens, to talk to a street vendor of Glasgow Rangers‘ flags, to take several pictures of the rather keen fans in Deansgate Locks and elsewhere around Manchester. I realise that they may not have been aware that I would put their photos up on the Internet, but by experience I am sure they would not mind anyway.
I did not witness the ransacks in the city, I got home by 7 pm, and never showed my nose back into the street till the morning. I heard the fans strolling the streets, the police sirens, and my network connection died at certain times, so I could not even make a phone call. And I know that I would be a winner either way, as these days I belong to both countries. But neither is my mother or many of my dear friends in Russia. So, it was just really pleasant to find out that Zenith has won. Congratulations to you, guys!!
Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
PS – As I was walking home yesterday evening, I asked a street cleaner since when he was collecting the garbage and how many bin bags he made. His answers were, respectively, “since 11 o’clock” and “lost count”. Today, on my way to work, I saw a banner over one of Manchester’s bars, reminding about the Manchester United vs Chelsea Champions League final in Moscow. Two football matches in the space of a week… I’m looking forward to hear the figures of the material and financial losses to the city. In the meantime, may I indicate that I’ll be wearing red on May 21st.